Facebook fomented online 'social-civil war’ in Poland: report

Social media giant Facebook caused an online “social-civil war” in Poland after a change to its news algorithm in 2018 boosted posts from authoritative sources that included outrage or misinformation, according to documents leaked by an American whistleblower, Polish broadcaster Radio Zet has reported.

Social media giant Facebook caused an online social-civil war in Poland after a change to its news algorithm in 2018 boosted posts from authoritative sources that included outrage or misinformation, according to documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Social media giant Facebook caused an online “social-civil war” in Poland after a change to its news algorithm in 2018 boosted posts from authoritative sources that included outrage or misinformation, according to documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen.Pixabay license – Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

The whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who has testified before the US Congress and the UK parliament, confirmed that Facebook in 2018 made changes to its „news feed,” intending “to bring friends and family members closer together,” the Polish private broadcaster reported on its website.

However, internal research in 2019 found that, as a result of these changes, posts began to spread more easily if they included outrage or misinformation, according to findings from company documents and communications leaked by Haugen.Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen (centre) leaves the Houses of Parliament in London after giving evidence to members of the UK parliament on Monday.Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen (centre) leaves the Houses of Parliament in London after giving evidence to members of the UK parliament on Monday. Photo: EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

One internal researcher argued in an in-house message that this led to an online “social-civil war” abroad, in countries like Poland, radiozet.pl reported on Monday, quoting America’s NBC News.

The researcher said he had based his assessment on conversations with political operatives in Poland. He did not name specific parties or organisations responsible for stoking the “social-civil war” in online political discourse, Radio Zet reported.       

The nbcnews.com website noted that Poland’s 2019 parliamentary election campaign involved strong polarization of the main parties, on issues such as whether to expand welfare policies, on relations with the European Union and LGBT+ rights. 

A Facebook employee was quoted as saying that extremist political parties in various countries celebrated the way the new algorithm rewarded their “provocation strategies” for subjects such as immigration.

After Haugen came forward as a whistleblower, Facebook, which has around 3 billion users a month, faced one of its biggest image crises, radiozet.pl reported.

(pm/gs)

Source: radiozet.plnbcnews.com

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